School Health Services Research and Evaluation

For nearly 20 years, the School Health Services Research and Evaluation Team has conducted evaluation research on a variety of school health and wellness topics, primarily focused on school health centers, school-based behavioral health interventions, school health needs assessment, coordinated school health efforts, nutrition and physical activity programs, and youth development interventions. Using a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods, the Research and Evaluation Team is committed to meeting the needs of programs and funders, and ensuring that findings are translated into program improvements to better serve students and communities. 

Research and Evaluation Team

samira soleimanpourSamira Soleimanpour, PhD, has led numerous multi-site, multi-method evaluations of school and adolescent health initiatives with the School Health Services Research and Evaluation Team for over 17 years. Specifically, her areas of evaluation research include school-based health centers (SBHCs), school-based mental health services, community-based participatory research, and adolescent sexual health programs. Samira is currently the Principal Investigator on evaluations of two federally-funded initiatives led by the California Department of Education focusing on school-based behavioral health and adolescent sexual health services. She also leads evaluations of Bay Area initiatives focused on school-based health services and youth trauma exposure. In addition, she serves as a consultant to the national School-Based Health Alliance on their initiative to develop standardized performance measures for SBHCs and their national Census of school-based health care programs. Samira received her Master of Public Health from the George Washington University and her Doctor of Philosophy from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She utilizes both quantitative and qualitative methods in her evaluation work, including primary data collection through surveys, interviews, and focus groups and secondary data analysis. She is particularly committed to the translation of evaluation findings into policies and programs that improve children's health and educational outcomes. 

Sara Geierstanger, MPH, Research and Evaluation Director. Ms. Geierstanger joined UCSF in 1994 and has since designed and directed numerous evaluations on a variety of community health topics, including the impact of school health services on health care access and client and student outcomes, school health needs assessments, sustainability of school health services, adolescent reproductive health, and community health center advocacy. Her current activities include a comprehensive evaluation of 27 school health centers in Alameda County and two federally funded evaluations through the California Department of Education, one focused on school-based behavioral health and one on school-based HIV/STD prevention. She also consults the School Based Health Alliance as they work to develop standardized performance measures for school health centers nationwide. Her expertise is in multi-site program evaluations using qualitative and quantitative methods. She has served as both a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer and a U.S. Fulbright Scholar. Ms. Geierstanger received a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from the University of Michigan and a Master of Public Health from the University of California, Berkeley.

Sandy Ng, MPH, Evaluation Data Manager. Ms. Ng joined UCSF in 1999. Ms. Ng’s work has primarily focused on school health services, children’s health insurance coverage, and adolescent health. She currently works on an evaluation of school health centers in Alameda County and recently worked on a school health needs assessment in Fremont. She previously evaluated school-based yoga and mindfulness programs, school-based behavioral health services, and after school programs. Additionally, she has worked on quality improvement efforts with health and human services agencies throughout California to streamline outreach, enrollment, and retention in public/private health insurance programs. She also serves on the Program Committee for Huckleberry Youth Programs in San Francisco and Marin. Ms. Ng holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Biology from the University of California, Berkeley and a Master of Public Health degree in Health Services Administration from San Diego State University.

Claire Brindis, DrPH, is Director of the Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies (PRL-IHPS) and Professor of Pediatrics and Health Policy. She also serves as Director of UCSF’s Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health and Co-Project Director for the Adolescent and Young Adult Health National Resource Center. As Principal Investigator of the School Health Services Research and Evaluation Team, she has led numerous local, state, and national evaluations of school health centers, reproductive health services for low income adolescents, children's health coverage initiatives, and coalitions devoted to expanding access to community clinics. Dr. Brindis incorporates a variety of research methodologies into her work, including community participatory research, quantitative, and qualitative approaches. She is particularly committed to the translation of research findings into policies and programs.  Dr. Brindis helped open one the first school health centers in California in San Francisco, followed by SBHC openings in Oakland, California.  She has authored several manuscripts on school health centers, as well as the “Guidebook for Evaluating School-Based Health Centers,” the first comprehensive evaluation manual of its kind.

Current Research and Evaluation Projects

*  Alameda County Center for Healthy Schools and Communities, School Health Center Evaluation (Funder: Alameda County Health Care Services Agency), 1997-present. Using web-based electronic data collection, student, parent and school staff surveys, student focus groups, and key stakeholder interviews, our research examines the effects of School Health Center clinical services and youth development programs on access to care, client satisfaction, reproductive health, behavioral health and dental health outcomes, youth resiliency, and academic behaviors. 

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* Project Cal-Well Mental Health Program (Funder: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s "Now is the Time" Project Advancing Wellness and Resilience in Education State Educational Agency grant to the California Department of Education), 2015-2019. The California Department of Education’s (CDE) Project Cal-Well Program is a consortium of the CDE and three grantee local educational agencies (LEAs), selected through a competitive process to support the statewide efforts: ABC Unified School District, Garden Grove Unified School District, and San Diego County Office of Education. Our evaluation will help document how this statewide initiative to expand school-based mental health services impacts youth and school staff’s awareness of mental health issues and access to care. Evaluation methods include student, school staff, and school administrator surveys; focus groups; and tracking referrals to mental health services made by participants of Youth Mental Health First Aid trainings. 

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* Addressing Trauma in Oakland Schools (Funder: San Francisco Foundation grant to the California School-Based Health Alliance), 2015-2017. The School Health Services Research and Evaluation Team is working with the California School-Based Health Alliance, Alameda County Health Care Services Agency, and Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) to evaluate an initiative designed to expand 15 OUSD school health centers’ (SHCs) work on trauma-informed healing practices. Through this project, SHCs will implement new ways to screen students for trauma, improve connections to care for students who are impacted by trauma, and launch new trauma-informed support groups. The evaluation uses clinical data collection and post-surveys to document these efforts.

* West Contra Costa County School Health Centers (Funder: California School-Based Health Alliance), 2010-present. Using electronic data collection, client surveys, student focus groups, and key stakeholder interviews, the evaluation examines the effects of school health center clinical services on access to care and client satisfaction with medical, behavioral health, and support services.

* Young Men’s Empowerment Collaborative (YMEC) (Funder: Department of Justice), 2015-2018. We are working with the California School-Based Health Alliance and West Contra Costa Unified School District to evaluate the YMEC. The YMEC supports school health centers to promote justice and healing among young men of color in West Contra Costa County who have been victims of violence. Using screening tools, clinical data collection and pre/post surveys of program participants, our evaluation will examine program effects on youth’s self-regulation of trauma symptoms and resiliency factors.

Completed Research and Evaluation Projects (Selected)

* Berkeley High School Health Needs Assessments  (Funder: Alameda County Health Care Services Agency), 2016-17. Using student, parent, and school staff surveys as well as student focus group and key stakeholder interviews, our team conducted a needs assessment to determine the behavioral health needs and access to support services among Berkeley High School students. The findings will help inform the development of a more coordinated and efficient behavioral health care support system on campus. 

* Fremont Unified School District (FUSD) Needs Assessment (Funder: Alameda County Health Care Services Agency), 2015-16. The goal of this project was to provide up-to-date, comprehensive information on needs, gaps, and priorities to support improved student and community health and well-being in FUSD. Primary data collection for the needs assessment was conducted with students, parents, school staff, behavioral health providers, principals and other key stakeholders representing FUSD and partnering agencies. Secondary school population data was also analyzed to provide contextual information. The Research and Evaluation Team provided a summary of the reported needs, as well as recommendations to address these needs.

* Elev8 School Health Center Evaluation (Funder: Atlantic Philanthropies), 2011-2015. Our Research and Evaluation Team collaborated with UCSF Schools of Nursing and Dentistry to evaluate new school health service strategies, including dental screenings and group obesity interventions with students and their families.

* Headstand School Program Evaluation (Funder: Headstand), 2013-14. Using pre-post participant surveys, activity logs, as well as teacher, funder and school administrator interviews, our Research and Evaluation Team evaluation team examined the effects of a yoga and mindfulness program on 5th grade participants at a charter school in the San Francisco Bay Area. (Download PDF)

* Documenting the Link between School Health Center Efforts and Academic Success (Funder: California School-Based Health Alliance). 2013-2014. Using key informational interviews as well as an in-depth review of the research, our Research and Evaluation Team evaluation team developed a guide with recommendations for research and evaluation strategies to document the link between School Health Centers and a range of academic indicators of success. (Download PDF)

* Oakland Unified School District School Wellness Evaluation (Funder: Kaiser Permanente), 2011-2013. To help the District map existing health resources and programs, assess wellness policy implementation, and determine areas for future focus, our Research and Evaluation Team evaluation team analyzed secondary data and administered a School Wellness Inventory survey completed by 75% of OUSD schools. 

* Oakland Unified School District Wellness Champion Initiative Evaluation (Funder: S.D. Bechtel Jr. Foundation), 2010-2014. To develop recommendations to improve access to nutrition and physical activity in their school environments, this evaluation included youth participant surveys and focus groups, key stakeholder interviews, and youth participatory research methods to examine the results of initiative efforts. (Download PDF)

* School-Based Health Care Initiative Evaluation (Funder: The Colorado Health Foundation), 2010-2013. To document the impact of the Initiative as well as best practices for ongoing sustainability, our Research and Evaluation Teamevaluation team developed and administered a SBHC Sustainability Self-Assessment Tool, conducted grantee and key stakeholder interviews, and developed case studies. The SBHC Sustainability Self-Assessment Tool is now being used nationally. (Download PDF)

* Oakland Unified School District School Health Needs Assessment (Funder: Kaiser Permanente), 2009-2011. The assessment process informed the design of the school based health service delivery system, determined needed collaborative resources for successful implementation, and gathered baseline data to measure achievements. Methods included parent and school staff surveys, administration of the school health module of the California Healthy Kids Survey, and coordination of Student Research Teams.

* La Clinica de La Raza Adolescent Family Life Pregnant and Parenting Teen Program Evaluation (Funder: Office of Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention), 2006-2012. This evaluation utilized a prospective cohort design to examine changes in pregnant and parenting teens’ social and health outcomes that resulted from exposure to the Centering group model of service delivery as compared to those receiving traditional individualized care.

* Promoting Adolescent Health through School-Based HIV/STD Prevention and School Surveillance (Funder: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention grant to the California Department of Education), 2014-2018. Using surveys, progress reports and secondary data analysis, the evaluation assessed efforts to help districts and schools deliver exemplary sexual health education; increase adolescent access to key sexual health services; establish safe and supportive environments for students and staff; and implement policies related to HIV/STD prevention.

Selected Peer-Reviewed Articles on School Health Services

1. Soleimanpour S, Geierstanger S, Brindis C. (2017). Adverse childhood experiences and resilience: addressing the unique needs of adolescents. Academic Pediatrics, 17(7):S108–S114.

2. Lewis C, Deardorff J, Lahiff M, Soleimanpour S, Sakashita K, Brindis C. (2015). High school students’ experiences of bullying and victimization and the association with school health center use. Journal of School Health, 85(5):318-326.

3. Geierstanger S, Soleimanpour S. School absences due to health conditions: Interventions. (2013). In Encyclopedia of School Health, Eds. D.C. Wiley & A.C. Cory. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

4. Soleimanpour S. School absences due to health conditions: Assessment. (2013). In Encyclopedia of School Health, Eds. D.C. Wiley & A.C. Cory. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

5. Keeton V, Soleimanpour S, Brindis C. (2012) School-based health centers in an era of healthcare reform: Building on history. Curr Probl Pediatr Adolesc Health Care, 42(6):132-158.

6. Amaral G, Geierstanger SP, Soleimanpour S, Brindis C. (2011). Mental health characteristics and health-seeking behaviors of adolescent school-based health center users and non-users. Journal of School Health, 81(3):138–145.

7. Soleimanpour S, Geierstanger S, Kaller S, McCarter V, Brindis C. (2010). The role of school based health centers in health care access and client outcomes.  Am J Public Health, 100(9):1597-603.

8. Brindis C, Geierstanger SP, Faxio A. (2009). The role of policy advocacy in assuring comprehensive family life education in California. Health Education & Behavior, 36(6):1095-1108.

9. Soleimanpour S, Brindis C, Geierstanger S, Kandawalla S, Kurlaender T. (2008). Incorporating youth-led community participatory research into school health center programs and policies. Public Health Reports, 123(6):709-716.

10. Ballonoff A, Soleimanpour S, London J. (2006). Youth action for health through youth-led research. Journal of Community Practice, 14(1/2). Published simultaneously in Youth Participation and Community Change, Eds. B. Checkoway & M. Gutierrez. New York, NY: Routledge, 2006.

11. Brindis C, Geierstanger SP, Wilcox N, McCarter V, Hubbard A. (2005). Evaluation of a peer provider reproductive health service model for adolescents. Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 37(2):85-91.

12. Geierstanger SP, Amaral G, Monsour M, Russell Walters S. (2004). School-based health centers and academic performance: research, challenges and recommendations. Journal of School Health, 74(9):347-352.